Director: Anthony Minghella
Producer: Saul Zaentz
Executive Producers: Scott Greenstein, Bob and Harvey Weinstein
Associate Producer: Steve E. Andrews
Script: Anthony Minghella
From the novel by Michael Ondaatje
Cinematography: John Seale
Art Direction: Aurelio Crugnola
Production Design: Stuart Craig
Editing: Walter Murch
Makeup Dept: Giusy Bovino and Fabrizio Sforza
Costume Design: Ann Roth
Original Music: Gabriel Yared
Essentially a story about a wounded archaeologist during the second world war who ends up in occupied Italy. The story is told half in flashbacks, half in present tense, with the beginning a sort of bridge between the two: Story one, Juliette Binoche's nurse caring for the English Patient, begins at the end of Story two, where Ralph Fiennes (on an expedition in the desert) falls madly in love with a married woman (Kristin Scoot Thomas). Later, Story three also interweaves with one and two , telling of Willem Dafoe's bitter thief and his connection with the English Patient. This storytelling device is probably what makes the movie brilliant.
Despite its technical brilliance, it is the films examination of emotions that gives it its heart. The characters are fascinating and much of this such be attributed to the original book by Michael Ondaatje and the brilliant screenplay. No one here can be called a caricature and while you may not understand everything they do, part of the fun is piecing together their actions into complex individuals.
The best performances were turned in by Ralph Fiennes as Almasy and by Kristin Scott-Thomas as Katharine. Katharine was the perfect foil for the silent, brooding Almasy...the one woman in the world who could get him to open up, to live life, to love, for Almasy is a man who keeps much of himself, to himself. But when he does give himself, he gives all and he gives forever.
Juliette Binoche was wonderful as the sensitive, emotionally damaged Hana, but her character, in both the book and the movie was underdeveloped. Binoche, a beautiful and sensitive actress did all she could with it and the result was at least satisfactory. , Naveen Andrews also struggled with a slightly underdeveloped role as Kip the Indian bomb disposer. This best seen was the Rudyard Kipling debate with Fiennes.
It is both a very gently nuanced film, yet it is one that is simply bursting at the seems with passion. Fiennes and Scott-Thomas show us more passion with their eyes and their glances at each other than they do in any other way. Add to this the fact that Fiennes rarely speaks and is not the archetypal bad guy - Scott-Thomas is far from a femme fatale and you can get some idea of the calibre of the performances.
The cinematography in the film is breathtaking. John Seale really caught the desert in all of its glory. The morning shots of the desert are particularly beautiful as are the aerial views. The desert, especially, the Sahara and its huge, rolling dunes, can be gloriously colourful and beautiful and Seales managed to capture all of that on film, enhancing the film's beauty and its atmosphere. One of the best parts of the cinematography is the treatment f the flashback scenes. Sand dunes dissolve into crumpled sheets, Scott-Thomas's hand dissolves into the hand of Almasy as he is dying. Seales found a way to bridge the time gap visually in the most perfect manner.
I'm not really sure why this movie was not more successful at gaining those over hyped American Academy Awards. Audience reaction was also mixed with the complex plot put off those looking for an action epic or a chick flick . Maybe the passionate but ultimately destructive relationship put off those looking for a formulaic happy-ending fluff romance. Maybe these people just don't like thinking during movies, because this movie doesn't lay everything out for you and you have to work to figure out character motivations, plot, symbolism, etc. But to me, all those things that this movie isn't only adds to its richness and beauty.